Schools for Certified Occupational Therapist Assistants: How to Choose

Occupational therapist assistant programs prepare students for work rehabilitating individuals with developmental, mental, emotional or physical hindrances. A Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) has completed an occupational therapy assistant associate degree program and has passed the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

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Students may receive training to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant through an associate degree program in occupational therapy assistance. After completing a program, students can then take the NBCOT examination to gain their certification in the field, and they may seek additional credentials depending on state requirements.

Schools with Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs

These schools offer associate degree programs for students who want to become occupational therapy assistants:

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition and Fees (In-state, 2015-2016)*
Wallace State Community College Hanceville, AL 2-year, Public $4,320
Arkansas Tech University Russellville, AR 4-year, Public $6,192
Middle Georgia State University Macon, GA 4-year, Public $3,890
Lewis & Clark Community College Godfrey, IL 2-year, Public $3,072
North Shore Community College Danvers, MA 2-year, Public $4,536
Anoka Technical College Anoka, MN 2-year, Public $5,584
Marion Technical College** Ocala, FL 2-year, Public $2,312
Nashville State Community College Nashville, TN 2-year, Public $3,873
Bates Technical College Tacoma, WA 2-year, Public $3,681

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School website

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School Selection Criteria

Consider the following when looking for an OTA program:

  • Look for schools accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), as they all must meet and maintain certain standards for continued accreditation.
  • If you already know you're interested in a specialty, seek out schools that offer programs in that focus area.
  • Find out about financial assistance options at the school, especially scholarship opportunities exclusively designed for aspiring COTAs.
  • Explore on-campus and off-site practical training opportunities, such as internships and clinical volunteer opportunities.

Associate Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistance

Associate degree programs in occupational therapy assistance commonly include a variety of medical and psychological courses. Fieldwork is typically mandatory for graduation.

By earning an associate degree from an accredited school, aspiring certified occupational therapist assistants can get the education they need to meet state certification requirements and get an entry-level job in the field.

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